top of page

De Moor VII:14: The Immutability of Predestination, Part 2

The Adversaries are almost the same here. Concerning the disagreements of the Tridentine Men on this matter, read PETRUS SUAVIS POLANUS’ Historiam Concilii Tridentini, book II, pages 239, 242-246, 262, 263. With respect to the Socinians, see Volkelius, de Vera Religione, book V, chapter XVII, pages 540, 541, compared with MARESIUS’ Hydra Socinianismi expugnata, tome 3, pages 530-532. Likewise, the Arminians, from their πρώτῳ ψεύδει, fundamental error, concerning Free Will, and that Scope/Goal, that they might uphold the Apostasy of Believers, set up a Mutable Election; which, therefore, they contrive to be twofold, one Incomplete and Non-Peremptory of those that are going to believe, which is able to be recalled and made void, on account of the inconstancy of men, who are able to fall from the Faith; but the other Complete and Peremptory of those persevering and dying in Faith, which is immutable. While we, on the other hand, being ignorant of these diverse degrees and species of Election, acknowledge only one Complete and Peremptory Election, not Indefinite of believing and persevering men, but Definite of certain men, which we just now proved to be completely Immutable: compare the Canons of Dort, chapter 1, Rejection of Errors, § 2,[1] 6;[2]Catechismum Remonstrantium, questions XXXIX, XL, in comparison with HEIDANUS’ Wederlegginge des Remonstrantschen Catechismi, pages 161 and following. Among the Remonstrants, the opinion of Philip van Limborch on this part from his Theologia is explained and refuted at length by FRANS BURMAN, Burmannorum Pietate, § LXXI, numbers 1-7, pages 367-384, knowingly observing that, besides the denial of God’s Simplicity, consummate Perfection, Immutability, and Omniscience: 1. in this way God is not acknowledged as the author of man’s salvation, but a bare spectator of human actions, who contributes no other token to the salvation of men than general Decrees, and the means necessary for salvation, which are only set forth to man externally: for, whatever He contributes by His Decrees to our salvation consists in this, that at the same time man by his voluntary and free obedience, not depending upon God in this act, believes the Gospel, immediately God in His own mind applies in particular to this man that genral Decree, that every believer will be saved, and then choses him for salvation, and writes him among the number of those to be saved: which Election is indeed true in this moment, but not yet peremptory; since God thereupon watches and awaits, whether the man will persevere in faith or not, changing His Particular Decrees, until the more decisive day will arrive for the man, when the Decree of God is at last held to be irrevocable and peremptory. 2. That, according to the opinion of Limborch and those ὁμοψήφων/homologating, the particular, peremptory Decrees, concerning the salvation of a certain man in particular, do not precede our salvation, but rather follow it; and they are not the intention of conferring salvation, but a judgment concerning salvation acquired by human diligence, zeal, and strength; nor a Counsel concerning any thing future, but a Judgment concerning some thing past. In which manner again a new Theology appears to be forged, directly opposite to Sacred Scripture, and man appears to be made the workman of salvation, not God: for what thanks, says BURMAN, to God, not for the means necessary for salvation, which are common to the believer and the unbeliever, but for salvation itself, acquired by those means, would a sinner give, now introduced into glory, who is able to boast that this is now remuneration and reward for obedience, furnished by himself freely and by his own strength? 3. That thus the divine Decrees, to which our salvation is due, either would be completely taken away, or would be ascribed to God as such, that they are no more proper to God than to a created mind; with this one distinction, that a created mind is not always able to know whether a man would constantly obey: otherwise angels rendered more certain concerning a man piously deceased are able, as easily as God Himself, to elect such believing men to salvation by an absolute and peremptory decree, by application of the general divine Decree in their mind, by determining that this man was constant unto the end, and therefore saved; in the same manner also a believer dying in the Lord is also able to elect himself. The Anabaptists think that same things here with the Remonstrants: see Confessionem Waterlandorum, article VII; DORESLAER and AUSTRO-SYLVIUS, contra Anabaptistas,[3]chapter VIII, § 3, pages 97, 98. Against the Lutherans also, concerning the Immutability and Certainty of Election, and the certain and definite number of the Elect, disputes WENDELIN, Exercitationibus theologicis XV: compare Eckhardus’ Fasciculum Controversiarum cum Calvino, chapter XV, question XIV, page 369-371.

They Object: 1. That then in vain would be the Admonitions to due Care, Fear, and the Confirming of Election, 1 Corinthians 10:12; Philippians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:10; 3:17. Response: Not at all: α. Because these are Means cooperating unto a definite Salvation as a result of the Counsel of God; since here we do not at all wish the Means to be separated from the End: at the same time, Scripture, setting forth the Means and our Duty concerning them, does not exclude the Help of God, through which we certain fulfill that Duty. β. In Philippians 2:12, Paul speaks, not of Servile Fear joined with unbelief, but of Filial Fear and reverence, which does not exclude, but implies, objective and subjective Certainty of Election, by reason of God’s paternal benignity acknowledged by Faith. γ. Peter does not mean, 2 Peter 1:10, that believers render their Calling and Election sure, βεβαίαν/firm; it is certain on God’s side. Indeed, Calling/Vocation is a Benefit, which already in the first translation of the natural man into His communion God irresistibly confers upon Him without the cooperation of the man in the first moment, and which Paul mentions among the gifts of God ἀμεταμέλητα, without repentance, Romans 11:29. Election is an eternal act, depending upon the mere and immutable Good Pleasure of God: hence in verse 3 Peter had said that all things πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν, pertaining to life and godliness, are given to believers through τὴν θείαν δύναμιν, the divine power. But they were obliged to make their Calling and Election sure on their side, by the sincere practice of faith and piety, by comparison with verses 5-9. So that, give diligence to make your Calling and Election firm, that is, certain, is in the place of, give diligence to make yourselves more certain of your Calling and Election, as if by Hypallage.[4] But it is not necessary to flee to a Hypallage, if we observe that Peter does not make use of the Active verb ποιεῖν, but the Middle, ποιεῖσθαι; which, here taken according to the proper force of of Middle verbs, according to which they express immanent and reciprocal action, will denote to make for oneself and in one’s conscience his Calling and Election firm, by comparison with an expression occurring in verse 15 of the same chapter, ἔχειν ὑμᾶς τὴν τούτων μνήμην ποιεῖσθαι, that ye may have to make for yourselves the memory of these things; similar to which is another expression, μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι, to make oneself a remembrance, repeated four times in the writings of Paul, in which it is twice rendered by the DUTCH, gedachtig zyn, to be mindful, namely, in 1 Thessalonians 1:2;[5] Philemon 4;[6] and twice gedenken, to remember, in Romans 1:9;[7] Ephesians 1:16:[8] see Commentarium meum ad 2 Peter 1, pages 480-492, compared with Præfatione mea in that place, ̽ ͓ ̽ ͓ ̽ 3, and MARESIUS’ Hydra Socinianismi expugnata, tome 3, pages 521-524, on Volkelius’ de Vera Religione, book V, chapter XVII, pages 537, 538; and also TRIGLAND’S Antapologiam, chapter XIX, page 300, chapter XXXIV, page 460, on chapter XVIII Apologiæ Remonstrantium, page 192a.

They Object, 2. the Threats of Deletion from the Book of Life, Revelation 22:19, which by the solemn Prayers of Moses and Paul concerning themselves appear to be confirmed, Exodus 32:32; Romans 9:3. I Respond: α. with our AUTHOR, Threatening, employed as a Means of Preservation, does not always posit a Possible Effect: and thus in Revelation 22:19 a Conditional Threat is found, which only posits a certain Connection between the antecedent and consequent, and by the Grace of God makes for the preservation of the Elect from Addition or Subtraction with respect to the Book of Prophecy, so that the Consequent never obtains Effect in them; but none but the Elect were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. β. Therefore, the Deletion from the Book of Life, threatened by God against those that actually add or subtract from the Book of Prophecy, if it should obtain Effect with respect to Reprobates; is not to be understood of a true Deletion of the Writing made by God, for according to Sacred Scripture tat is impossible, Revelation 3:5; 21:27: but is to be understood of Removal of a portion, which one by his own vain imagination was ascribing to himself in the Book of Life, which sort of Removal and Deletion from the Book of Life is made, when such are declared never to have been written by God in the Book of Life, according to Psalm 69:28, where Deletion and Non-Writing are conjoined, which are to be understood of a Declaration of a Writing not made, since Deletion properly so called is not able to have place, when no Writing has been made: see our AUTHOR’S Commentarium on the passages of Revelation cited; Exercitationes Textuales XXIV, Part V, which presents an Exegetical Analysis of Psalm 69, § 12, pages 773, 774; TURRETIN’S Exercitationem de Libro Vitæ, which is the first in Decade Disputationum Miscellanearum, § 17-25, 32-34. γ. But, because Moses in his Prayer in Exodus 32:32 does not expressly mention the Book of Life, but simply the Book of God, there are those that think that to refer to the catalogue of those naturally living, from which Moses desires to be removed by the inflicting of temporal death, מְחֵ֣נִי נָ֔א מִֽסִּפְרְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּתָֽבְתָּ׃, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written, compared with verses 9, 10. But others think that, when Moses, addressing God, makes mention of thy Book which thou hast written, this is to be explained of the Book of thine own, whom thou hast recorded into a catalogue of those to be saved, so that the Book of Life is called the Book of God κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence. Indeed, they observe that the temporal death of one man, Moses, is too slight a thing, than that by it a whole people should be redeemed and preserved from deletion. But, whatever might be the case, δ. this Prayer of Moses, no less than that of Romans 9:3, who does not say positively εὔχομαι, I wish,[9] but conditionally ηὐχόμην, I could wish;[10] it is always to be understood under a Condition; if in this manner it should indeed appear to God to illustrate His Glory more: as it could sometimes appear to man that God is more glorified by the whole Israelite nation’s Salvation, both corporal, and spiritual and eternal, than of one man, Moses or Paul. Therefore, these are Conditional Prayers, which posit nothing in being; but they only indicate a most intense Zeal for the divine glory with self-abnegation and the cost of one’s own salvation. But Paul, desiring to be made Anathema, does not so much have regard to separation from Christ with respect to grace and holiness, as if he had thus also wished to curse Christ, which sort of Prayer would have been impious: but he has regard to separation from Christ with respect to glory and felicity, if this were able to be done in the nature of the case and through the Will of God. The prior saying of Moses our AUTHOR painstakingly illustrates, Exercitationibus V, Part V, the latter of Paul, Exercitationibus Textualibus XLVIII, Part V, § 5: see also TURRETIN, Exercitatione de Libro Vitæ, § 26-31; and WITSIUS’ Miscellaneorum sacrorum, tome 2, Exercitation II, which is concerning the Votive Anathema of Paul in Romans 9:3.

They Object, 3. Examples, both of those Perishing, John 17:12, and of those Fearing Reprobation, 1 Corinthians 11:27. Response: α. With respect to Judas, concerning whom in John 17:12, 1. Either he is merely number among those given to the Apostolate, in which sense he is said to have been chosen by Christ, but called a devil in the same breath, John 6:70, 71. 2. Or, if from the context you suppose He speaks concerning the Giving unto Salvation; the state of Judas, who was a devil, John 6:70, not chosen by Christ for Salvation, John 13:18, and who in this very passage is described as υἱὸς ἀπωλείας, the son of perdition, destined for destruction, who consequently was never among those given to Christ for Salvation, and is not able by way of Exception to be extracted from the rest given to Christ: that state of Judas, I say, directs us to take the little words, εἰ μὴ, but,[11] not by way of Exception but Adversatively, so that Judas, the son of perdition, never having been given to Christ, is set over against all those given to Christ, as our AUTHOR observes in his Compendio, that in many Passages this adversative use of the particles εἰ μὴ, ἐὰν μὴ, obtains in the New Testament; see Matthew 12:4;[12] Luke 4:26, 27;[13] Galatians 1:7;[14] 2:16;[15] Revelation 21:27.[16] Just as the little Hebrew terms, כִּי־אִם, are also used, both by way of Exception in the place of except, and Adversatively in the place of but. β. With respect to Paul, speaking of himself in 1 Corinthians 9:27, 1. Zeal for avoiding Reprobation, care lest one be found Reprobate after the fact, does not imply possible Reprobation with respect to the Elect, which the Apostle was not fearing with respect to himself, even with diffidence, by comparison with Romans 8:35-39; 2 Timothy 1:12: but it is among the Means whereby God brings the Decree of Election into effect. 2. But ἀδόκιμος does not necessarily denote participially reprobated by God; but rather according to the use encountered in the New Testament[17] it will signify nominally inept, unsuitable, reprobable; lest Paul should be of this sort, he was subjugating his body: with an allusion not at all inelegant to boxers, of which those that were idle and lazy from excessive fattening, or were made weaker by luxury, or not appropriately exercised, were rejected, as inept and less fit: see LYDIUS’[18]Agonistica sacra, chapters III, V, XIV, XVI; ARNOLDI’S Scopas dissolutas Eckhardi, chapter XV, question XIV, page 341.

They Object, 4. consequent Absurdities, thus introducing on the one hand the Carnal Security of the Elect, and on the other the Excusability and Hopelessness of Reprobates: for thus they infer, either I am predestinated or elect, or I am reprobate: If predestinated, it does not matter whether I will have lived well or ill, because I shall be saved: If reprobated, ruin must certain come to me, however much I might desire to be good and zealous of virtue. Response: α. That this manner of arguing is of the Devil, who was saying to the Lord, Matthew 4:6, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee, etc.; but Jesus answers well, verse 7, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. β. This is a circular argument, while it presupposes what is false; namely, that it is evident and able to be concluded concerning Predestination, apart from a consideration of means. γ. It errs by the fallacy of division, because Predestination is not only to an end; but also to means, whereby there is an arrival at the end. δ. It places a contradiction in the thing conjoined; that he is called elect, and perseveres in sin: that he is called reprobate, and has a desire and will for conversion. While those that are Elect are converted and study Sanctification: those that are Reprobate remain in their sins, are filthy in them, and do not desire to be converted. ε. Carnal Security of the Elect does not then follow from our doctrine, because he that believes himself Elect unto life, ought also at the same time believe himself Elect unto Faith and Piety; whence he holds it necessary to study Piety, if he truly desires to be made more certain of his Election, 1 John 3:3. ϛ. On the other hand, from Reprobation follows, a. no Excusability, since Reprobates, ignorant of their divine Reprobation, sin against the known Law of God, and od that voluntarily. b. Likewise, no Hopelessness, since this supposes that the man is certain concerning his Reprobation: but, while this life endures, ordinarily no one is able to be certain of his Reprobation before death. Carefully compare on this Objection HEIDANUS’ Wederlegginge des Remonstrantschen Catechismi, question XL, pages 167-178; SPANHEIM, Decadum Theologicarum VIII, § 4, opera, tome 3, column 1246; STAPFER’S Theologicæ polemicæ, tome 5, chapter XX, § 208-231, pages 278-301. While Catechesis Racoviana, chapter X, de Prophetico Christi munere, questions 14, 15, pages 255, 256, pronounces our sentence concerning the Decree of irrevocable and immutable Predestination to be altogether fallacious, primarily for this reason, that thus it would be necessary for all religion to fall: and it attempts to prove that in this way, “that all things regarding piety and religion would necessarily belong to us then: with which admitted, what would be the purpose in striving, and in laboring, that we might be pious? For every effort and pursuit would be altogether superfluous for that, when all things happen necessarily, as the very rationale shows. But, with effort and pursuit removed from piety and religion itself, it would be necessary for piety and religion to perish.” ARNOLDI, in his Refutatione, pages 613-617, refutes this calumny of the Adversaries, § I-V; and, on the other hand, he makes it plain that through the opinion of the Adversaries that religion completely topples, piety is altogether overthrown, and atheism is brought in, § VI-XV.

[1] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, Rejection 2: “That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incom­plete, revocable, nondecisive and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive and absolute. Likewise: that there is one election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith without being a decisive election unto salva­tion. For this is a fancy of men’s minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: ‘Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified’ (Romans 8:30).” [2] Canons of Dort, chapter 1, Rejection 6: “That not every election unto salvation is unchangeable, but that some of the elect, any decree of God notwithstanding, can yet perish and do indeed perish. By which gross error they make God to be changeable, and destroy the comfort which the godly obtain out of the firmness of their election, and contradict the Holy Scripture which teaches that the elect cannot be led astray: ‘Insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect’ (Matthew 24:24); that Christ does not lose those whom the Father gave Him: ‘And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing’ (John 6:39); and that God hath also glorified those whom He foreordained, called and justified: ‘Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified’ (Romans 8:30).” [3] Petrus Jakobus Austro-Sylvius (died 1647) was a Reformed Pastor in North Holland. He was commissioned by the synod of North Holland to prepare a refutation of the errors of the Mennonites. Progress on the work was slow until Abraham à Doreslaer (died 1655), a learned Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian, was appointed to help (1627). The result is a massive eight hundred and fifty-sx pages of careful comparison between the doctrines of the Reformed and of the Mennonites. [4] An hypallage is an interchange of grammatical cases. [5] 1 Thessalonians 1:2: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you (μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιούμενοι) in our prayers…” [6] Philemon 4: “I thank my God, making mention of thee (μνείαν σου ποιούμενος) always in my prayers…” [7] Romans 1:9: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you (μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιοῦμαι) always in my prayers…” [8] Ephesians 1:16: “Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you (μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιούμενος) in my prayers…” [9] Thus the weight of the Byzantine textual tradition. [10] Thus a significant portion of the Byzantine textual tradition, the Alexandrian also, and the Textus Receptus. [11] John 17:12: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but (εἰ μὴ) the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” [12] Matthew 12:4: “How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but (εἰ μὴ) for the priests alone?” [13] Luke 4:26, 27: “But unto none of them was Elias sent, save (εἰ μὴ) unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving (εἰ μὴ) Naaman the Syrian.” [14] Galatians 1:7: “Which is not another; but (εἰ μή) there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” [15] Galatians 2:16: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but (ἐὰν μὴ) by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” [16] Revelation 21:27: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but (εἰ μὴ) they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” [17] For example, Titus 1:16: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (ἀδόκιμοι/unfit).” [18] Jacobus Lydius (1610-1679) was a Reformed theologian and philologist. He served as minister at Dordrecht.

68 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page